Showing posts with label XGames. Show all posts
Showing posts with label XGames. Show all posts

Some Final Thoughts on the 2017 Winter XGames

If you've ready my blog over the weekend, you saw that I posted a couple of stories from the 2017 Winter XGames (part 1 and part 2). After an eventful day again on Sunday, I'm now back home and ready to dive into our usual updates here at The Adventure Blog, but before I did that I wanted to share some final thoughts on this amazing event held in Aspen, Colorado.

Yesterday was the final day of the competition, with only three events on the schedule. But because all three received air time on ESPN, there was plenty of energy around those competitions. The first of which was women's ski slopestyle, which was won by 14-year old Kelly Sildaru, who simply looked amazing on the slopes. At 14 years of age I was barely able to keep myself out of trouble, but this young lady is already dominating the freestyle skiing world circuit. Don't believe me? Consider this: it was Kelly's second XGames gold medal in this event in a row, which means she started winning last year at the age of 13.

From there it was on to the men's snowboard slopestyle final where an another amazing young athlete took center stage. Norway's Marcus Kleveland, who is just 17 years old, showed off moves that are going to make him a force to reckoned with for years to come as well, winning the event in impressive fashion. With just over a year to go until the next Winter Olympic Games, I think it is safe to say that we're going to see both Marcus and Kelly on that very big stage next year.

The final event of the XGames with the snowmobile best trick competition, which was won by Daniel Boden. Unfortunately, I wasn't around to see this event go down, as when it was getting underway I was heading to the airport to start my trip back home. The big story around this event was the attempt by two of the riders – Colten Moore and Heath Frisby – to do the first ever double backflip in a competition. Neither man was able to accomplish that feat however, leaving the door open for others to show off their moves instead.

So, after a very busy weekend filled with some great athletic performances – not to mention a few dramatic moments – my main takeaway from my first ever XGames competition was just how approachable and relaxed the athletes all were. Everyone was having a great time, with these world class skiers and snowboarders mingling casually with fans, speaking freely with the media, and generally having a great time. I've been to similar events in the past, and it isn't always so relaxed or easy to enjoy the proceedings, but the entire vibe of the XGames is so positive, its hard not to get caught up in what's happening there. It doesn't hurt that Aspen is a great place to hold the competitions, with plenty to offer spectators and athletes alike.

I want to thank my friends at LifeProof for inviting me to take part in the event. It was a great experience, and I was happy to be a part of the crowd that saw everything go down over the past few days. Hopefully I'll get a chance to go back again in the future.

Winter XGames 2017 Day 2: A Well Oiled Machine

Yesterday was my second day at Winter XGames 2017 in Aspen, Colorado and much like Day 1, it was filled with lots of energy and excitement, not just from the athletes, but from the spectators too. With great weather, relatively warm temperatures (25ºF/-3ºC), and lots of things to do in and around the XGames arena, the fans turned out in large numbers to cheer on their favorite actions sports athletes, who didn't disappoint.

The first competition of the day got started early was some of the best skiers in the world hitting the slopes for the men's slopstyle skiing final, which was won by Øystein Braaten of Norway. He started a bit slow on his first run, crashing out early on some rails. But but his second attempt was nearly flawless, giving him a solid win agains some great competition, which weren't far off in terms of scoring.

Next up, was women's snowboard slopestyle finals, which went Julie Marino of the U.S. This competition wasn't quite so hotly contested as the men's ski final, but the ladies did put on a good show, with a large crowd starting to gather in the XGames village. With music, food, contests, entertainment, and plenty of fun booths to visit, the fans had a lot to do between competitions.

The big draw for the daytime events was without a doubt the snowmobile freestyle final. This is the crazy event in which snowmobile riders attempt to push their powerful - but heavy and ponderous – machines through some amazing stunts in the air. Each year, this competition seems to get more intense, and 2017 was not different. This is one of those sports where I'm much happier watching than actually participating, as on more than one occasion I thought to myself "these guys are crazy."

As the event rolled along, the riders continued to push the envelope, with Colten Moore setting the pace with some high-flying stunts that wowed the crowd. But at the end of the day, the gold medal went to Joe Parsons, who on his final run strung together an impressive set of tricks that impressed the judges enough to just edge out his rival.


Following the crazy antics on the snowmobiles, we had a bit of time to catch our breath before the start of the next competition. During that period, I had the chance to chat with a couple of different athletes, including skier Kevin Rolland and snowboarders Sebastian Toutant and Christy Prior, who wasn't on hand to compete as she recovers from injury. The take away I got from chatting with each of them was that the XGames are as big for these athletes as the Olympics, and that they all look forward to competing with their friends in Aspen. This is a tightly knit group of friends who also happen to be rivals, and it was clear that they all knew each other well and enjoyed going head to head with one another.

In speaking to with Rolland in particular we chatted about the number of crashes that had been occurring on the superpipe over the course of the week. I mentioned this yesterday, and said that it marred the competition to a degree, as not everyone got the chance to truly shine. Kevin told met hat the edges of the pipe were not quite what the athletes were use to, and it was making it very difficult to stick the landings after coming off some of their high flying antics. He had crashed badly on one of his runs the night before, but fortunately was just a little bruised and shaken up the next day. After we chatted, he was getting on a plane to fly to Europe, where he would be skiing at the World Cup next week. Fortunately, he should be ready to go for that competition.

Early in the evening, the focus of the games shifted back to the slopes, where the ladies gathered once more for the ski Big Air finale. That competition was won by German Lisa Zimmerman, who is amongst the best big air competitors in the world. She edged out the competition with some serious height and tricks that had the crowd cheering, even as they regathered for the evening's events.

After that, the snowboarders returned to the superpipe once again, with the ladies final in that event. American Elena Hight took her first ever gold in that event, fending off some stiff competition from a who's who list of female snowboarders. Fortunately, there were fewer crashes in the pipe for this event, although the same problems that had caused the men issues the night before were still somewhat common for the ladies too.

The final event of the night was the men's skiing Big Air final, which got off to an auspicious start when Swiss rider Luca Schuler crashed badly on his first run of the night. That accident brought a hush to the crowd, which looked on with obvious concern as medical staff slowly stabilized him, placed him on a stretcher, and rushed him off the snow. The prognosis later would be that Schuler suffered a concussion, and he spent some time in a local hospital where tests were negative and he was later released. It seems like he'll be just fine, but it was a scary moment for the games for sure.

Once the competition resumed, the rest of the field put on quite an aerial show. The skiers flipped, tumbled, soared, and spun through the thin Aspen air, quickly reenergizing the crowd. In the end, it was Brit James Woods who took home the gold, the first person form his country to earn that honor at the XGames.

After the competitions wrapped up for the evening, the crowd moved over to one of the music stages to listen to some of the bands booked to entertain them at the XGames. For me, it was time to head home and get some rest. It had been another fun, but long day, during which I had yet another chance to see these athletes not only shine in their field, but interact with their fans too. The one thing I'll definitely take away from my XGames experience is how down to Earth and grounded all of the athletes are, and how happy the are to be here. That includes meeting and greeting their fans, who find them accessible and accommodating at every turn. There are other pro athletes that could learn a thing or two from that.


The XGames Bring Winter Fun and Excitement

I'm on the ground in Aspen, Colorado at the moment, where I'm attending the 2017 Winter XGames. After a full day of watching a wide variety of competitions, it is easy to see why this event has grown into one of the premiere skiing and snowboarding showdowns on the winter sports calendar each year. But beyond that, there is plenty of other fun to be had in the snow too, including a new event that looks to have a big future, both at the XGames and beyond. 

Held each year at Buttermilk Mountain, the XGames attracts some of the top winter athletes from all over the world. The resort is a good one to serve as host, as it has all of the facilities needed for the wide variety of events that take place over the course of this long weekend. That makes it a popular place not just for the athletes, but also the fans in attendance, who turned out in droves last night for the women's Ski Superpipe final,the LifeProof Ski Superpipe men's final, and the men's Snowboard Big Air final, despite the fact that the temperatures hovered around 0ºF (-17ºC), with windchills dropping it even further. 

Likewise, Aspen is a great host city as well, in part because it is such a popular winter playground. The quintessential mountain town, Aspen is well situated right in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and has plenty of hotels, restaurants, and other amenities to keep skiers, snowboarders, and XGames attendees very happy. 

When I arrived at Buttermilk yesterday afternoon, the XGames village was already jumping. Crowds were already gathering to watch snowboard qualifying runs, while also visiting various booths, tents, and interactive displays from event sponsors. A steady stream of music played throughout the area, and there was an electric excitement in the air. Blue skies and a warm sun made it very comfortable to enjoy watching the athletes, although it was just as fun to watch attendees compete in various games, cheer on their favorite XGames personalities, and queue up for athlete autographs. 
One of the first competitions that I had the opportunity to watch in its entirety was the first ever Snow BikeCross final, which was one by Brock Hoyer. During this event, the competitors ride Snow Bikes, like the Timbersled that I had the chance to ride and write about last year. For those not familiar with these machines, they are a cross between a dirt bike motorcycle and a snowmobile, with some of the best elements of both of those vehicles. 

As I mentioned last year when I had my test ride, these bikes are fast, agile, and fun, which is what the crowd saw yesterday during a wild and crazy final. I think it is safe to say that the snow bikes were very popular with XGames attendees, and I could see them taking a more prominent role in future editions of the event. 

I had the chance to talk to one of the riders – Darrin Mees – following the event, and it was clear that he was excited about the possibilities of the sport. He told me "This is just the beginning. The future looks really bright for snow bikes, which are just incredibly fun to ride." Judging from the crowd's reaction to the race, I think that is very astute prediction. 

After the Snow Bike Cross final, I had some time to before the evening's festivities. During that time, the afternoon crowds began to swell to larger numbers, but once the sun dropped behind the mountain, the temperature plummeted. By the time the ladies Ski Superpipe competition got underway it was getting down right chilly. That event was won by Marie Martinod in an event that set the tone for things to come. 

Most of the attention on Friday night centered around the superpipe, which several athletes indicated was the fastest half-pipe they had ever skied on. That speed and challenge was evident, as there were a number of missteps and outright crashes for both the men and women, which marred the competition to a degree. The winners were certainly deserving, but it quickly became evident that the medals for the evening would be won by the athletes who could survive.

This was especially the case for the Lifeproof Ski Superpipe men's final, which was won by Aaron Blunck, who definitely put down the best run of the night. But some of his competition took themselves out of the running with frequent crashes. I think the crowd would have liked to have seen the skiers get a chance to show off their skills without so many missed maneuvers. 

The evening was rounded out with the men's Snowboard Big Air competition, which is a rapid-fire event that involved the 8 competitors pulling off their biggest and boldest tricks, then racing back to the top of the mountain in an effort to get as many runs down the slope as they could in a 25 minute time limit. This event turned into a highlight reel with the boarders pulling off some amazing stunts, many of which had never been done in competition before, including 17-year old Marcus Kleveland of Norway completing the first quad-cork ever completed in competition. 

This event was eventually won by Max Parrot, but it was certainly a spirited event that also featured a number of crazy, and painful, looking crashes. In this case however, it was more due to the athletes pushing the envelope as far as they possibly could in an effort to win the event, rather than the course being too fast or icy. 

This was my first day ever at an XGames event, and it was a lot of fun. These winter athletes are incredibly gifted, but all of the ones I met and talked to are also very down to Earth, accommodating of fans, and are just happy to be here. They are great ambassadors for their various sports, and the kind of person you'd enjoy spending a day exploring the backcountry with. 

I can't think of a higher compliment than that. 

Heading to Aspen for the Winter XGames

Just a quick note as I get ready to head out on another brief, but exciting adventure. Tomorrow morning I'll leave for Apsen, Colorado to attend the Winter XGames, which means there will probably be no normal update to round out the week. But, that said, don't be too surprised if I don't post a few things over the weekend about my experience. It should be an interesting one.

While in Aspen, I'm hoping to get the chance to chat with some of the athletes, attend several of the events, and take in the spectacle that is the XGames. This is the first time I've attended the event, and I'm really looking forward to it. I want to thank the folks at LifeProof for inviting me. It should be a busy couple of days, but a lot of fun too. If you want a first hand account of what the games are like be sure to follow my social media feeds. (Facebook - Twitter - Instagram)

This is a short trip. I'll be back home by Sunday evening, and usual updates will resume on Monday. While I'm away, I hope everyone heads out to enjoy some weekend adventures of their own. Back soon!

Video: Getting the Shot - What it Takes to be an Adventure Photographer

Ever wonder what it takes to be a great outdoor and adventure photographer? As you can imagine, it is a fun, rewarding job, but one that is also incredibly tough too. That is especially true for a woman, as there aren't many in the industry. But Erin Hogue is one of those ladies, and in this video she talks about what it takes to get the perfect shot. Erin will also be the only woman participating in the inaugural World of X Games: Zoom Photography Contest next week, which is awarding prizes for the best action sports images as well. If you're an aspiring photographer, you'll want to check out this clip, and subscribe to her YouTube channel to catch the ongoing series starting soon.